If you’re going on holiday, or travelling to a business conference you might taking steps to keep your money safe: leaving some cards and documents at home, ensuring others are with you at all times, and secured against pick pockets. What you might not be thinking about is protecting your data.
With increasingly stringent border controls in different countries around the world, travelling with your mobile devices is more and more complex, and difficult to do safely. In some countries, including America, you may be asked to hand over your mobile devices at border control, along with their passcodes so they can be inspected by officials.
On flights from some destinations in the Middle East, tablets and laptops are now banned in hand luggage, and must be put in checked luggage if they are to be taken at all. Leaving your precious electronic devices to the mercy of Heathrow’s baggage handlers might be a recipe for panic.
Here are some tips for keeping your data safe as you move across borders on your travels.
It’s always for the best to be polite and cooperative with border control agents. Even if you are sure of your rights, and simply curious about the questions they are asking, appearing resistant to the process may have you flagged as suspicious. This is likely to result in, at best, longer, more intense questioning.
This is why it’s important to:
If you don’t want to give access to your phone and personal data make sure you prepare ahead of time.
One solution is to back up any important documents and contacts to cloud storage, and then delete all files and apps except the essentials. Replace them with additional antivirus and encryption software for the duration of your trip – this is good practice when travelling anyway.
You can download any apps you have removed after you’ve passed through border control and reclaim documents and data from the cloud when you need it, and avoid exposing it to any additional risk while you are in transit.
If you’re really concerned about taking sensitive information with you, you may wish to keep a phone specially for travel which doesn’t have any of your usual log ins on it. You can swap in local SIM cards for your destination and use secure online services to get international topup wherever you are.